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SecAF discusses Minuteman III, space at Vandenberg

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley shakes hands with Staff Sgt. James Romig during a tour of the base Tuesday, June 15, 2010. During his visit, Secretary Donley met with base leadership, toured facilities and observed a Minuteman III launch, the first under Air Force Global Strike Command. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ashley Reed)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley shakes hands with Staff Sgt. James Romig during a tour of the base Tuesday, June 15, 2010. During his visit, Secretary Donley met with base leadership, toured facilities and observed a Minuteman III launch, the first under Air Force Global Strike Command. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ashley Reed)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley looks at a display featuring some of Vandenberg's previous launches during a tour of base facilities Tuesday, June 15, 2010. During his visit, Secretary Donley met with base leadership, toured facilities and observed a Minuteman III launch, the first under Air Force Global Strike Command. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ashley Reed)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley looks at a display featuring some of Vandenberg's previous launches during a tour of base facilities Tuesday, June 15, 2010. During his visit, Secretary Donley met with base leadership, toured facilities and observed a Minuteman III launch, the first under Air Force Global Strike Command. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ashley Reed)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley visited Vandenberg June 15-16 to tour the base and observe the Minuteman III test launch.

Secretary Donley visited the 14th Air Force Joint Space Operations Center. Lt. Gen. Larry James, the 14th Air Force commander, briefed Secretary Donley on current and upcoming missions.

"The JSpOC has been a particular item of interest to me over the last couple of years because of the evolutions of their capabilities," Secretary Donley said. "Building the JSpOC mission system is a priority for the Air Force."

Secretary Donley also had the opportunity to view a scheduled Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile test launch and tour the Launch Control Center Wednesday morning.

The Minuteman III is the United States' only land-based ICBM currently in service. "We're focused right now on sustaining the Minuteman fleet through 2030, said Secretary Donley. "We have not yet reached the point where we are ready to consider or commit to a next-generation ICBM and so we'll focus on Minuteman sustainment in immediate years ahead."

The visit to Vandenberg wasn't the first for Secretary Donley, who is the 22nd secretary and was confirmed for the job in 2008. In a dual-hatted role, Secretary Donley is also the executive agent for space for the Department of Defense.

"I have made it a point to educate myself on the Air Force's space programs and operations from the earliest days of my arrival in the office," said Secretary Donley. "That was the immediate reason why I was interested in making a stop at Vandenberg some time back."

During his stay this time, it was all about the future. Touring numerous launch facilities and meeting with the Airmen, he learned how space capabilities will help shape the future of the Air Force.

"Space capabilities are enablers for just about everything the United States military does," he said. "Space and cyberspace are growing parts of our Air Force work and the technology is also changing. There are lots of reasons to be optimistic about the future of the Air Force."

Touring the facilities and viewing the launch, however, was not the highlight of Secretary Donley's trip.

"As always, the best part of this job is visiting with the Airmen who are performing important work for our Air Force and our nation 24/7," he said. "They are incredibly talented and are doing great work for our nation."